Real Estate News

    • 5 Natural Cleansers Your Home Needs

      3 October 2023

      Whether you’re a guest or a member of the household, there’s no doubt that a clean home feels more welcoming and inviting. Unfortunately, a lot of harsh chemical cleaners can be damaging to the environment or have unpleasant side effects for humans and pets. 

      While industrial cleaners have their place for industrial-sized jobs, natural cleaners can be effective and easy options for daily household chores. 

      Baking Soda
      Baking soda is a natural cleaner powerhouse. It is an excellent deodorizer to sprinkle on carpets and furniture and can even be stored in an open container to help mitigate odors in the fridge. Additionally, Baking soda is a gentle abrasive cleaner, which means it is excellent when formed into a paste with soap water to tackle more challenging cleaning jobs on hard surfaces around the house.

      Lemon Juice
      The acid from lemon juice is naturally antimicrobial and has minimal bleaching properties. It also smells fresh. Adding lemon juice or simply using a lemon to clean around your kitchen can have a positive impact on your kitchen's overall freshness. A half of a lemon and coarse salt can be an effective wood cleanser for any wood cutting boards or kitchen utensils. When combined with another natural cleanser, you can tackle even the grimiest situation on hard surfaces around the home.

      Hydrogen Peroxide
      When used in a diluted form, hydrogen peroxide can be used to kill germs and bacteria on surfaces. As an effective disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide can be used around the house to sanitize. A bit of hydrogen peroxide can also be highly effective at removing blood stains from fabric.

      Castile Soap
      This primary plant-based soap is traditionally made and biodegradable. It is also a workhorse around the home. Castile soap can be used for the body and hair, but also as an all-purpose cleaner for washing clothing, cleaning surfaces, and washing household items. Diluted castile soap can be combined with water and other cleaners for a more robust cleaning solution.

      White Vinegar
      Perhaps the most commonly used natural cleaner, white vinegar is extremely inexpensive and easy to come by. While its smell can be rather potent, vinegar comes in handy as an odor remover option to dissolve mineral deposits and disinfect surfaces. You can mix it with water to create an all-purpose cleaner. To lessen the harsh smell, add lemon juice, herbs, and even lemon peels to your cleaning spray bottle for a zesty and fresh cleaning solution.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Top 5 Annual Maintenance Tasks

      3 October 2023

      Annual maintenance is key to protecting your property and keeping your home looking and working at its best. While some tasks can be delayed or only need tending occasionally, there are specific maintenance tasks that are crucial to perform each year. 

      Roof Inspection
      Your roof is the largest investment of your home, and its importance cannot be overstated. A leaking roof can be extremely costly to repair and can cause damage to the interior of your home; including the electrical wiring. Protect your home by investing in a professional roof inspection annually to ensure that any issues are spotted right away. 

      HVAC Maintenance and Inspection
      Your HVAC works hard throughout the year. Ensure it gets an annual inspection and tune-up by a trained professional. When you choose to schedule the maintenance and care is up to you, but many experts recommend doing it before a high-use season. Schedule your HVAC for keeping in the fall or spring before extreme temperatures mean you will be relying on it heavily. No one wants to find themselves on an extremely hot or cold day without access to temperature controls. Since extreme temperatures can exacerbate an issue, if you don’t have your HVAC system addressed ahead of the season, you may find yourself in need of emergency repair.

      Lawn Care
      Unlike many critical annual maintenance tasks, landscaping and lawn care must be done throughout the year incrementally. Unfortunately, lawn care is not a “one and done” task, but tending correctly to your yard will increase your curb appeal and property value. Your lawn and landscaping needs are addressed throughout the year; particularly during the change of seasons. Make sure the sprinkler system is set up for each season’s weather.

      Gutter Cleaning
      Debris can accumulate during stormy weather in the fall and winter seasons. Keeping your gutters clear is key to protecting your roof and your home’s foundation from water pooling and even freezing. Water damage is costly and a pain to address, so save yourself the trouble and care for your gutters properly.

      Annual weatherproofing can mitigate issues with pest infestations and can keep your heating and cooling costs low. Tending to weatherproofing is inexpensive and relatively easy even for inexperienced handymen, so be sure that you don’t skip this task.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should I Move Into a Home With an HOA?

      3 October 2023

      Finding a new home can be a stressful and exciting prospect. There are a lot of factors to consider when searching for your dream home; from square footage to location, you likely have a list of wants and deal-breakers. Many buyers don’t consider where an HOA rests on those lists. 

      Benefits of an HOA

      • Amenities: Many HOAs provide amenities such as pools, gyms, parks, and common areas.
      • Maintenance Assistance: Some HOAs work with vendors who will cover external maintenance like landscaping and snow removal.
      • Community Feeling: HOAs can foster a sense of community by organizing neighborhood potlucks, block parties, and other events. They may also mediate conflicts to ensure everyone in the neighborhood’s needs are met.  Some offer neighborhood watch programs as well. This can be helpful for anyone who wants to have a close relationship with neighbors.
      • Protected Home Values: HOAs have standards for home builds and colors. This can ensure cohesion and boost the overall aesthetic. HOA's rules can also ensure everyone in the neighborhood maintains homes and curb appeal, protecting property values throughout the neighborhood.
      Disadvantages of an HOA
      • Fees, Fines, or Assessments: HOAs charge monthly or annual fees to cover things like maintenance and management costs. HOAs are also allowed to charge fines or special assessments for a breach of regulations or to cover unexpected costs like repairs or improvements. Fees can vary significantly from one HOA to another, and some will be more aggressive in applying fines than others.
      • Exterior Restrictions: HOAs can have strict rules about building renovations, exterior modifications, paint colors, landscaping, and even lawn decor or parking on the street. This can feel restricting to some homeowners.
      • Lack of Property Versatility: Some HOAs will have rules restricting long-term renting, short-term renting (like an Airbnb), long-term guests, and even dog breeds, among other things. This can make your property less usable than a home outside of an HOA’s purview.
      • Rule Interpretation: HOA rules can be complex and, at times, subject to interpretation. This can lead to confusion and frustration if not addressed correctly. Changes in leadership can further complicate matters if rules are enforced differently than in the past.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Get Preapproved for a Higher Mortgage Amount

      2 October 2023

      Before you start shopping for a house, you should get preapproved for a mortgage. A lender will tell you how much it’s willing to give you to put toward a home purchase. 

      Having a specific number can help you focus on properties in the right price range. If you think you can realistically afford a more expensive property, you might be able to get a lender to preapprove you for a higher amount.

      Improve Your Credit 
      Lenders base their decisions heavily on applicants’ credit scores. Check your credit reports for errors. If you find any, dispute them.

      Make all your required payments on time and pay down debt balances. That can raise your credit scores and help you get preapproved for a higher mortgage amount, as well as a lower interest rate. 

      Reduce Your Debt
      Lenders look at debt-to-income ratio, or the percentage of gross monthly income that’s used to pay debts, such as credit cards and installment loans. If you have a high DTI ratio, a lender won’t preapprove you for a large mortgage since you might not be able to manage the combined payments. Reducing your current debt load can make you less risky in the eyes of a lender and help you get preapproved for a larger mortgage.

      Increase Your Income
      The other part of the DTI ratio is income. Increasing your earnings can help you reduce your DTI ratio and get preapproved for a larger home loan. Working overtime, getting a part-time job and pursuing a side hustle are all ways to boost your income.

      Sometimes people don’t realize that they can include disability benefits, child support, alimony and other sources of income when applying for mortgage preapproval. If you didn’t count all allowable income in your initial application, you can submit a revised application and possibly get preapproved for an amount that will let you buy your dream home.

      Get a Cosigner
      Another option is to have someone, such as a family member or friend, cosign your mortgage application. A lender will count that person’s income, as well as yours, when evaluating your application.
      That’s a risky proposition for a cosigner. If you don’t keep up with your mortgage payments, your cosigner will be on the hook. 

      Don’t ask someone to cosign your mortgage application unless you’re certain that you’ll be able to afford the payments. If a loved one gets stuck paying your mortgage, that can cause irreversible harm to your relationship.

      Make a Bigger Down Payment
      If you take out a conventional loan and put down less than 20%, you’ll have to purchase private mortgage insurance. That might cost hundreds of dollars per month. A lender will take that into account when deciding how much of a loan to preapprove you for. 

      If you put down more than 20%, you won’t have to pay for PMI. Since you’ll have more money available to put toward principal and interest, a lender will be able to preapprove you for a larger amount. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Top 4 Easy Budgeting Tips

      2 October 2023

      Creating a budget is essential to establishing a strong financial foundation. Unfortunately, creating a budget can be very intimidating for some people. Many people fall into the Trap of feeling like budgets are too constraining or can never be adjusted. Additionally, many people forget to include fun purchases within their budget. 

      Keep a Diary of Outgoing Purchases
      When many people begin budgeting they create an unrealistic goal based on their lifestyle and needs. Beginning budgeters will often only think of their necessary expenses while completely forgetting about the reasonable everyday outgoing purchases. Take a week or two to keep track of any outgoing purchases that you are making. This can help you assess where your money is going. Remember that budgeting isn't about never spending money but only spending your free income on worthwhile options. This can include hobbies and eating out–within reason. Tracking your outgoing expenses can help you realize how you prioritize spending money now in order to realistically choose how you want to spend your money moving forward.

      Track Your Income
      No budget is complete without a stern and realistic look at your incoming funds. Tracking your income is key to assessing What your options are when it comes to your budget. When creating your budget, try not to include things like unexpected bonuses or commissions that may not be consistent or reliable income sources.

      Create an Expense Budget
      Everyone has expenses, and some are more important than others. evaluate your expenses and highlight any that are non-negotiables. These are expensive, such as your mortgage or rent, utilities, car payments, loans, and other essential bills. Once these have been categorized, add your extra expenses like subscription services or gym memberships. Remember that if your budget is tight, these items may need to be culled to preserve your financial freedom down the road.

      Reduce Bill and Subscription Costs
      Many outgoing expenses can be reduced with extra work. Utility bills can be reduced by monitoring water usage, turning off lighting when not in use, unplugging electronics, and using energy-efficient appliances. Cable, internet, and even insurance can be reduced if you negotiate. Often, companies like these are willing to offer discounts to retain customers, so it's certainly worth calling your provider and inquiring about any available deals if you are considering canceling.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.